Rory Stewart and Boris Johnson joint top of poll on who would make best next Prime Minister
Rory Stewart is tied at the top of a poll with Boris Johnson on who the public think would make the best next Prime Minister.
In a boost for the International Development Secretary, who has been seen as an outsider in the race, both he and the ex-foreign secretary were ranked at 4.5 out of 10 on whether they would make a good PM.
The pair are followed by Dominic Raab, who scored 4.4, Sajid Javid on 4.3, Jeremy Hunt and Andrea Leadsom on 4.2, Mark Harper on 4.1 and Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey each with a score of 4.
Mr Johnson is seen as the frontrunner among his 11 colleagues vying for the job, ahead of Tory MPs casting their votes to narrow down the options, before a ballot of the final two candidates is put to Tory members next month.
Of the voters who had heard of Rory Stewart when asked for the Opinium poll, he is seen as determined (+10%), competent (+7%) and as saying what he means (+7%).
He is not perceived as being good on the world stage however (-16%), or in “standing up for people like me” (-13%).
Responding to the poll, Mr Stewart said: "This is very encouraging. There are many steps still between here and Downing Street and more still we are to truly transform our society, our environment and our relations with each other. But this is a really welcome vote of confidence from the public - and heartwarming too."
Meanwhile Boris Johnson is seen as determined (+28%), but is perceived much more negatively elsewhere, such as in being likeable (-7%), in making big decisions (-18%) or in being truthful (-26%).
James Endersby, CEO of Opinium said: “Rory Stewart is proving to be the surprise success story of the Tory leadership race at this early stage.
"He is the only contender with more positive than negative perceptions from the general public as a whole, although we must always remember that only a small number of people, Tory MPs followed by party members, will actually get a say in this election.
"It’s important to note that Rory Stewart is more popular amongst those who voted Labour and Lib Dem in 2017, so he could be a good option for Conservatives who want their leader to reach out across the political divide come the next general election.”